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Islam and Other Faiths.pdf

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Islam and Other
Faiths
ISMAIL RAJI AL-FARUQI
Edited by
ATAULLAH S1DDIQUI
J
Contents
Foreword................. vii
Introduction........................................................................
I. The Ideational Relation.............................................................72
A. Judaism and Christianity 73; ...
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Islam and Other Faiths.pdf

  1. 1. Islam and Other Faiths ISMAIL RAJI AL-FARUQI Edited by ATAULLAH S1DDIQUI
  2. 2. J Contents Foreword................. vii Introduction............................................................................................. xi Acknowledgements...........................................................................xxx PART I Chapter One: The Essence of Religious Experience in Islam...................................................................................................3 Chapter Two: Divine Transcendence and Its Expression....................... 21 Genesis and Early Development of the Idea of Divine Transcendence..................................................... 21 Divine Transcendence in Prc-lslam.............................................25 .Mesopotamia and Arabia 25; The Hebrews and Their Descendants 26; 'lire Christians 30 Divine Transcendence in Islam .....................................................44 The Human Capacity to Understand 44; The Human Capacity to Misunderstand 48; The Expression ol Divine Transcendence in the Uisual Arts 52; The Expression of Transcendencein Belles-Lettres $8;Safeguarding Belles-Lettres Revelation From Changing Language and Culture 64 Chapter Three: The Role of Islam in Global Inter­ Religious Dependence ................................................ 71 lii
  3. 3. I. The Ideational Relation.............................................................72 A. Judaism and Christianity 73; B. The Other Religions 77; C. Islam's Relation to all Humans Ubethaupt 81 II. The Practical Relation................................................................85 A The Jewish Ummah 86; B. Hie Christian Ummah 88; C. Ummahfs) of Other Religions 89 III. Conclusion: Islam's Contribution to Global Religious Interdependence.......................................................91 Discussion.............................................................................................93 Chapter Four: A Comparison of the Islamic and Christian Approaches to Hebrew Scripture ................ 109 PART II Chapter Five: Islam and Other Faiths.................................... 129 I. The World's Need for Humane Universalism............... 129 II. The Lesson of Islam................................................................. 131 A. The Essence 131; B. Implications for Other Faiths 133; C. The Theory ofMan 137; D. The History 146 III The Basis for Inter-Religious Cooperation: Islamic Humanism..................................................................................... 151 Chapter Six: History of Religions: Its Nature and Significance for Christian Education and the Muslim-Christian Dialogue....................................................161 I. The Nature of History of Religions....................................161 1. Reportage or the Collection ofData 161; 2. Construction ofMeaning-Wholes or the Systematization of Data 168; 3. Judgement or Emluation ofMeaning- Wholes 172 II. The Significance of History of Religions for Christian Education..................................................................183 III The Significance of History of Religions for the Christian-Muslim Dialogue................................................. 189 In Response to Dr. al-Faruqi - Bernard E. Meland.............. 194 iv Chapter Seven: Common Bases Between the Ivo Religions in Regard of Convictions and Points of Agreement in the Spheres of Life............................... 211 First. The Common Base.............................................................211 I. The Fields of Cooperative Endeavour.............................. 217 1. In the Realm of Christian Awareness 217; 2. In the Realm of MuslimAwareness 220; 3. In the Realm ofPublic Human Affairs 224 Chapter Eight: Islam and Christianity: Diatribe or Dialogue .................................................................................. 241 Precis................................................................................................... 241 The Present Problem..................................................................... 244 Methodology of Dialogue........................... 250 Themes for Dialogue..................................................................... 2S6 Dialectic of die Themes with the Figurizations................... 258 A. Modern Man and the State of Innocence 258; B Justification as Declaring or Making Good 262; C. Redemption as Ontic Fait Accompli 266 Prospects.............................................................................................269 A. The Catholic Church 269; B. 77ie Protestants 270 Chapter Nine: Rights of Non-Muslims Under Islam: Social and Cultural Aspects.................................................. 281 Introduction.......................................................................................281 The Univenalist Religions........................................................... 282 The Ethnic Religions.................................................................... 283 The Position of Islam..................................................................... 284 Inviting the Non-Believer to Share in the Summum Bonum .................................................................. 287 Hie Necessity of Calling the Non-Believer to Islam 287 The Freedom to Believe or Not to Believe...........................290 The Non-Muslim's Right to be Convinced 290; 'Die Right to be Nori-Convinced 292; The Right to Convince Others 293; The Freedom to be Different 295; 77ie Right to v
  4. 4. Perpetuate Themselves 297; Die Right to Work 298; The Right toJoy and Beauty 299 Conclusion........................................................................................ 301 PART III Chapter Ten: On the Nature of Islamic Da'wah ............. 305 I. Da wah Methodology.............................................................. 305 A. Da'wah is not Coercive 305; B. Da'wah is not a Psychotropic Induction 307: C. Da'wah is Directed to Muslims as well as Non-Muslims 308; D. Da'wah is Rational Intellection 309: E. Da'wah is Rationally Necessary 310; F. Da'wah is Anamnesis 311; G. Da'wah is Ecumenical Par Excellence 312 II. Da'wah Content.........................................................................314 Chapter Eleven: Da'wah in the West: Promise and Trial .............................................................................................319 I. The Marvel of the Spread of Islam....................................... 319 II. The Spiritual Bankruptcy of the West..............................320 A. In the Realm of Knowledge of Man and Nature 320; B. In the Realm of Religion 323 III. The Positive Appeal of Islam............................................. 325 IV. Muslim Hijrah or Emigration..............................................329 A. The New Muhdjintn (Emigres) 329; B. Die Un- Islamic Emigre Mentality 331; C. The Terrible Price of Emigration 333; D. Die Lost-Found Muhdjintn:DieAfro- Americans 336 V The Muhajir as Instrument of Da'wah.................................338 A. The Muliajir’s Awakening Through Fire 338; B. Da'wah: The Only Justificationfor Hijrah 343 VI. Da'wah and World Order....................................................347 Glossary.......................... ....................... 353 Index.......................................................................................................... 357 Foreword Diere was a tune in my life . . . when all I cared about was proving to myself that I could win my physical and intellectual existence from the West. But, when I won it, it became meaningless. I asked myself: Who am I?A Palestinian, aphilosopher, a liberal humanist? My answer was: I am a Muslim! * • M.Tariq Quraishi. Ismail al-Parugi.An Enduring Legacy (Plainfield. Indiana. The Muslim Students Association. 19*7), p. 9 On 27 May 1986. the Muslim World and the academic community lost one of its most energetic, engaging, and active colleagues - Ismail Raji al-Faruqi. Publication of Islam and Other Faiths is a fitting occasion to remember and celebrate a Muslim trailblazer of the twentieth century. In recent decades, the world of Islam has had a number of prominent intellectuals who. combining the best education tn Western universities with their Islamic heritage, have attempted both to explain Islam to non-Muslim audiences and to con­ tribute to the contemporary interpretation and understanding of Islam among Muslims. The growing Muslim communities in Europe ami America has made the task that much more impor­ tant. Ismail al-Faruqi was indeed a pioneer, one of a select few who blazed the trail for current and future generations. For al-Faruqi, Islam was an all-encompassing ideology, the primary identity of a world-wide community of believers and the guiding principle for society and culture. This approach, this whohstic Islamic world-view, was embodied in a life and career in which he wrote extensively, lectured and consulted vi VII
  5. 5. ISLAM AND OTHER FAITHS FOREWORD with Islamic movements and national governments, and organized Muslims m both America and internationally. Al-Faruqi, who saw the world through the prism ofhis Islamic faith and commitment, focused on issues of identity, history, belief, culture, social mores, and international relations.Whatever the national and cultural differences across the Muslim World, his analysis of the strengths and weaknesses (past, present, and future) of Muslim societies began with Islam - its presence in society and its necessary role in development, issues of identity, authenticity, acculturation. Western political and cultural imperialism, inter-religious understanding and dialogue - all were continuous themes in his writing. Al-Faruqi effectively bridged the two worlds of Islam and the West. After completing graduate degrees in Western philosophy, he left America for Cairo where, from 1954 to 1958, he immersed himselfin the study ofIslam at al-Azhar University. Returning to North America, he became Visiting Professor of Islamic Studies at the Institute of Islamic Studies and a Fellow at the Faculty of Divinity, McGill University from 1959 to 19ft! where he studied Christianity and Judaism. He began his professional career as Professor of Islamic Studies at the Central Institute for Islamic Research in Karachi. 1961-63. followed by a year as Visiting Professor of History of Religions at the University of Chicago (1964). He joined the faculty of Syracuse University and in 1968 became Professor of Islamic Studies and of History of Religions at Temple University, a post he retained until his death in 1986. During a professional life that spanned almost thirty years, Ismail al-Faruqi authored, edited, or translated 25 books, published more than too articles, was a visiting professor at more than 23 universities in Africa. Europe, the Middle East, South and Southeast Asia, and served on the editorial boards of seven major journals. As he worked to establish Islamic Studies programmes, recruit and train Muslim students, and organize Muslim professionals, he also established and chaired the Islamic Studies Steering Committee of the American Academy of Religion, a presence that has continued throughout the years. viii A significant portion ofIsmail al-Faruqi’s life was spent in tireless efforts both nationally and internationally for better understanding between Christians and Muslims. He did this through his scholarship and participation m ecumenical dialogue. His experience at McGill University’s Institute of Islamic Studies resulted in a major work. Christian Ethics. A Muslim study of Christianity, it was an ambitious two-year project during which he read widely in the history of Christian thought and Christian theology and had the opportunity to enter into extended conversation and debate with colleagues such as Wilfred Cantwell Smith, then Director of the Institute. Charles Adams, and Stanley Brice Frost, then Dean of the Faculty of Divinity. Christian Ethics was a ground-breaking exercise - a modern-trained Muslim’s analysis ofChristianity. Al-Faruqi combined an impressive breadth of scholarship with tireless energy, voracious intellect, and linguistic skills. While some might take issue with his interpretation and conclusions, he could not be faulted for not doing his homework nor for his candour. From the publication of Christian Ethics in 1967 until his death, he was a major force in Islam's dialogue with other world religions. As the collection of articles in Islam and Other Faiths demonstrates. al-Faruqi’s interest and involvement in inter­ religious dialogue was to continue throughout the rest of his life. Ismail al-Faruqi was a major voice and serious participant in the emerging fields of comparative religions and ecumenism. Here was a scholar who demonstrated his knowledge of the scriptures and scholarly tradition of the 'other'. As he travelled around the world in his capacity as an Islamic scholar-activist, he was also an active participant in international ecumenical meetings. As a leading Muslim spokesperson for Islam. al-Faruqi became one of a handful of Muslim scholars known and respected in both Western academic and ecumenical circles. His writings, speeches, participation and leadership role in inter­ religious meetings and organizations sponsored by the World Council of Churches, the National Council of Churches, the Vatican, and the Inter-Religious Peace Colloquium of which he was Vice-President from 1977 to 1982. made him the most ix
  6. 6. ISLAM AND OTHIR FAITHS visible and prolific Muslim contributor to the dialogue of world religions. In his writings, he set out the principles and bases for Muslim participation in inter-religious dialogue and social action. As in many other areas, al-Faruqi served as an example to other Muslim scholars of the importance of studying other faiths seriously. This belief was institutionalized at Temple University where al-Faruqi insisted that Muslim students seriously study other faiths and write dissertations in comparative religions. At the dawn of the twenty-first century, the relationship of Islam to other faiths has never been more important. Globaliza­ tion and the significant presence and force ofIslam in the Muslim World and the West make civilizational dialogue an imperative. Ismail al-Faruqi provides a model to be emulated. While some might disagree at times with his analysis and conclusions. al- Faruqi was a scholar who earned his right to participate in an inter-civilizational dialogue. He knew the sources of Western culture and thought and could debate and discuss them on an equal footing with all. Ismail al-Faruqi was a tireless scholar-activist, working on all fronts, domestically and internationally. As his former student and first Ph.D., I had the privilege to study with him and to know' both Ismail and Lamya al-Faruqi personally as well as professionally. He took a reluctant graduate student and by the force of his personality and academic skills, he made Islam 'come alive’ as a faith and civilization at a time when there wras little interest in Islam or the study of Islam in American universities. He was in turn, creative, imaginative, challenging, provocative, charming and, yes. committed. Islam and the teaching of Islam embodied his faith, profession, and vocation. In the end, however difficult it is to summarize or evaluate his life, one can safely say that given his beliefthat a Muslim was one whose submission is a life-long struggle to realize or actualize Gods Will, Ismail al-Faruqi was indeed a mujahid Washington, DC. John L. Esposito 23 February 1998 ProfessorofRdigion and InternationalAffairs Director, Center for Muslim-Christian Understanding, Georgetown University Introduction Ismail Raji al-Faruqi came into an intellectual world of lus own; shackled by circumstances, lie fought to prove his ideas right He followed the view that not to say things clearly is not to say them at all. Equipped with an academic training, he sought to prove or disprove those issues which had a bearing upon his time, especially those with regard to religious thought. Islam played a crucial role in al-Faruqi's lite, and especially in later life. He looked at things from an Islamic perspective. This factor was recognized by others, and in response to a letter from Professor H.A.R Gibb, he wrote: 'I take your word that you believe I am "genuinely concerned for Islam as a way of life” and consider your criticism as designed to promote - and wherever necessary to correct and redress this genuine concern.'' This genuine concern was a motivating factor throughout al- Faruqis life and, thus, an overwhelming concern of his academic mission. Al-Faruqi was born in Jaffa, Palestine, on 1 January 1921. His father. Abd al-Huda al-Faruqi. was both a judge and a well- known figure in Palestine. Al-Faruqi, thus, grew up in a prosperous and scholarly family with his education and family background giving him the confidence to play a prominent role in his country. After graduating from the American University of Beirut in 1941. he returned home and eventually became the District Governor of Galilee in the Government of Palestine. In 1948. however, the partition of Palestine made him and his family refugees. This experience no doubt left a deep scar on him. and probably influenced the future direction of his thought Subsequent writings reflect this tension for he never lost his attachment to Palestine, the land or the people and, therefore. xi
  7. 7. IMAM AMD OTII11R FAITHS IMTRODUCIION to its history and culture. Al-Faruqi left Palestine for the United States. There he obtained two Masters degrees in Philosophy from Indiana and Harvard Universities respectively, and completed his Ph D. ‘On Justifying the Good: Metaphysics and Epistemology of Value' in 1952. In his search for the classical Islamic heritage, he studied at Al-Azhar from 1954 to 1958. A year later, at the invitation ofProfessor Cantwell Smith, he joined the Faculty of Divinity at McGill University, Montreal, where he studied Judaism and Christianity. In the course of what follows, we will highlight some of al- Faruqi s perceptions and approaches to the understanding ofother faiths, though it will not be possible to provide a comprehensive coverage. We will begin where al-Faruqi began his exploration of pre-Abrahamic faith in the region, namely, the religions of the Mesopotamian and Egyptian civilizations. Al-Faruqi discusses the region and its people extensively in his writings as a backdrop to the study ofJudaism and Christianity, which played a crucial role in redefining the cultural and social norms of behaviour, and where the advent of Islam succeeded them all. His attention was focused on the region: first, because of the geographic, ethnic and linguistic community of the Near East.What is perhaps unique in al-Faruqi’s assessment of the region is that he saw the history of it as interconnected, a kind of eternal history, traversed in time and religious culture. Second, this culture and its history reveals itself like the leaves ofa book, and its connection with the Arabian Peninsula unfolds the eternal moral and spiritual impact as untouched by the Persian elements of Mesopotamian beliefs, particularly their eschatological and Messianic beliefs. The Arabs rejected those beliefs, and this. al-Faruqi argues, is the reason why Abraham, whom he calls 'the Mesopotamian Anonitc from Ur-.' finds spiritual connections and solace amongst them. Abraham’s beliefs and practices not only connect him spiritually in monotheistic roots but are also the very reason why he was forced to leave his country. It was Ins beliefs that nude him, both physically and socially, an outcast in his own community. He was a persecuted mail m Ur, the capital of Mesopotamia in 26-24 BC, a city which he left in order to pursue his faith. The obvious xii direction which he could take from there was to the Arabian Peninsula, which he did with Hagar. The Mesopotamians used various names for their divinities. Some evolved from cosmic features such as their deities for heaven, the winds, the foothills and fresh waters, and another, perhaps, secondary list provided appellations for the moon, the sun. and stars. An or Anum was the god of the heavens and the father ofother gods. Rain was seen as his semen, which impregnated the earth and produced vegetation. Enlil was the god of the winds and storms, whilst Eaki was the god of underground fresh water. But above all. Marduk, the city god of Babylon, claimed supremacy; he was appointed a kind of permanent king of the gods. Al-Faruqi’s analysis is interesting. In his description of the salient characteristics of the religious culture of these Near Eastern peoples and his conception of their relations with God. he argues that they saw themselves as servants of a transcendent deity. Furthermore, although the Mesopotamians had various deities, these too were regarded as servants. He finds that they never took a single phenomenon or element of nature and circumscribed to it completely, not even exhaustively to the God to whom they associated others with in al-Faruqi’s view, the 'association was always functional', accidental, but not total. Therefore, they were not Mushrtkun. This is where one finds difficulty with al-Faruqi’s excessive analysis, whilst nonetheless being interlocked with his imaginative ideas. Relinquishing the Mesopotamians from the burden of shirk, al-Faruqi contrasts their view of God with the Egyptian perception of God. The Egyptians, he found, ‘perceived the divine presence immediately in nature, the Mesopotamians deduced the divine presence immediately from nature'. He saw, in the Egyptian perception of God in and <>/ nature whereas the Mesopotamian God was in but 'never equivalent to or convertible with it’.1 Al-Faruqi seems to prepare his ground for Arabism. both in a geographical and spiritual sense, as a corollary for his long and ardent argument of Urubah. Once he reconciled and. then, reinstated the Mesopotamians as monotheistically XIII
  8. 8. ISLAM AND OTHER FAITHS INTRODUCTION inclined, the true realization of monotheism was "rediscovered’ and ‘reaffirmed' when Islam succeeded them. He found this historically crude legacy buried under the rubble of Greek and/ or Roman belief systems and their ‘sacramcntalist" versions of religion. Once the monotheistic set-up is established from the Arabian Peninsula, his Urubah theory finds its way and enters into the Near Eastern regions and the ancient Mesopotamian belt. Al-Faruqi pictures the Arabs and the regions they pertain to as rejoining the ‘Semitic Civilization’. Al-Faruqi was preoccupied with the specific scheme of Urubah or Arabism while at McGill University. His preconception of Urubah stemmed from his obsession with three stages of it. There is a contrast, for example, in al-Faruqi's concept of Arabism as compared to the Western understanding of nationalism which permeated so much of the Arab world especially during his lifetime. Al-Faruqi describes Arab nationalism as a product of the last two hundred years of Western political life, whilst Arabism. for him, is by contrast thousands of years old. Al-Faruqi’s early writings place much emphasis on defining Urubah in a restricted sense, but thereafter, in later writings, he explains the wider term Urubah, to which he attributes a large part of the world and wherein he finds a degree ofArabness ‘despite being non-Arabic speaking'. He described Arabism as an 'Arab stream' where the Arabness, in fact, ‘animates that stream and gives it momentum', and provides them with 'their language, culture and religion". This, he believes, the Arabs received in four succeeding waves, which he identifies as "Muslims in the seventh century ad. and Aramcans in the fifteenth century BC, as Amorites in the second and third, and as Akkadians in the fourth and fifth millennia B<:.’ Throughout these events. al-Faruqi finds ‘something eternally and unchangeably Arab persisted throughout history and by so doing, the Arab essence gave identity to the Arab stream and continuity to the events that make up its history'.' Al-Faruqi discusses his Arabism with reference to the three monotheistic religions with Middle Eastern foci. He extends his arguments beyond geographic regions and Abrahanuc religions but little is known in historical terms. He begins his progression theory with Judaism. The Judaic period, he emphasizes, starts with Abraham. He also distinguishes between the "Hebrew’ religion and "Judaism". One is the prc-exilic Judaism, the other ‘post-exilic’ Hebrew ritual. The post-exilic, he stresses, robs the Prophetic development of its continuity. He blames this lack of continuity of the Prophetic tradition on an overwhelming cxclusionism. The Rabbinic tradition, al- Faruqi suggests, is responsible for dc-railing Judaism from the Prophetic tradition of religion instead of guiding the Jewish people towards the exclusivism of people and land. He further argues that Jewish election theory is ethically unsustainable. Al-Faruqi’s concept of Urubah, however, and its extended use has its own critiques. Stanley Frost, then Dean of the Faculty of Divinity at McGill University, raised his own objections, stating: "By what right do you take a part of the whole (presuming you have substantiated your thesis that there is such an identifiable stream) and make it the definitive, constituent clement? In other words, is not "Arab” at best but one clement, and ifany inclusive word is to be found must not the word (and the idea) be “Semitic")? To say “Arab stream of Being" calls the whole concept into dispute." This touched al-Faruqi's academic nerve as well as his Arab identity. So, here, we would like to quote, in part, his response to the Semitic and Arab claim, which Stanley Frost so poignantly identified: I call this unique transcendence-consciousness Arab, rather than Semitic, because "Arab" is not the name of an element in the Stream, of‘one among many'. Judaism, for instance, is Jewish because it is the religion of the Jews who were the inhabitants of Judah. But it is also Arab because geographically, ethnically, linguistically and ideologically, the Jews who were the inhabitants ofJudah were one with the Arabs. The Jews were an clement among other elements such as the Phoenicians, the Anaanites, the Ancient Ma'imtes, etc. But all these were Arabs. It is true that all Arabs in my sense arc Semites, but this all-inclusive sense of‘Semite’ is a relatively xiv xv
  9. 9. ■SIAM AND OTHER FAITHS INTRODUCTION modern - I suspect Western - concept. I doubt if any Semite people has represented to itself its own identity as ‘Semitic’. You may ask. but has any of those peoples represented itself as Arab? The answer is yes, the ‘Arabs’ (in the smaller sense ofPeninsula Arabs) have always done so. And since they are the fountainhead of all those other peoples, they may legitimately give their name to the whole. I do not know of any geographic, ethnic, linguistic or ideological evidence which relates the Semitic peoples including the Arabs to Canaan, or to Phoenicia, or to Babylon, or to Judah, so as to furnish as much as a claim that the Arab Stream of being is really a Canaani, Phoenician, Babylonian orJewish Stream of Being. Only the concept 'Semite' has laid such a claim, but it has done so on the strength ofa modern distension of its denotation by Western scholars. If the Western scholar may. in the 19th century, pick out a concept (viz. 'Semitic') from the Jewish tradition and give it this all-inclusive sense, why may not I take the concept ‘Arab’ which is far more than a concept and restore to it in the 20th century the all- inclusive denotation which is its due?’ So taken was al-Faruqi by the novelty he had discovered as also by the power of his new idea on (Jridui/t that he troubled little to detach himself from the conclusions he drew from it. He moves on to focus on the second moment ofArab consciousness. A logical corollary for al-Faruqi was to link this to Christianity. Within the 'engrossed tribalism of the Jews’ and the chronic pervasion of the I lebrews within the Arab stream, he discovered Christianity as the second moment of Arab consciousness. The message of Jesus was a solution to the Hebrew's problem. Jesus was a Jew and, as such, he was aware of their spirit and their influences. The Jews saw Jesus as a man with a mission and the mission started with his own people. The Jews, al-Faruqi argues, recognized that their Creator was going to sweep away their Hebrew exclusivism, and bring about a new moment of consciousness in the realm oftheir spirit, and ethics, indeed across their entire system.Therefore,al-Faruqi points out, they 'resolved to put an end to Jesus' activity and life in order to protect, as they thought, the higher interest of that system and spirit'.Jesus and his message was interested in humanity, and Jesus was interested in the Jews as they were part of humanity 'and to the extent that he was born and lived in their midst and spoke their language’ Jesus preached loyalty to God and that God, above all. should be the criterion of all measurement. Jesus was not against the Jews per st. but clearly against the claim that they, above all people, are God's chosen children. The message of love thy neighbour was seen by the Hebrews as blasphemy. Love ofGod for them was love for the God of Israel.The Jewish love of law was seen as a protection against the growing popularity of Jesus' message The teachings of Jesus reminded them of their weaknesses. Jesus' criticism of the Jewish community of his time was direct and hard-hitting, but above all the history of the concept of'the Kingdom of God’ as being for all intents and purposes the history of the Jewish people was boldly confronted Jesus' teachings, then, challenged the core concepts and beliefs ofJewish thought. The notion that 'a kingdom that exists nowhere and everywhere, in the sense that it has no relation to any space but may exist wherever its constituents, the loving individuals, happen to be’ was. al-Faruqi found, unacceptable to the Jews At this challenging point in history, the creative and reshaping momentum of events had slowly but confidently been Hellenized. With Christianity, al-Faruqi discovered that elements of Je­ sus' teachings were already present in Judaic traditions and in Hanifism in particular. Hanifism. to al-Faruqi,'incorporates every noble thought in the Old Testament . . . from which sprang Christianity, the religion of the spirit and the intcriorised ethic par excellence'. The essence of Christianity, for al-Faruqi. lies 'in Amos, and Jeremiah, even before the Exile'. Whether this spe­ cific discovery is correct or not is less important for us than what he sees as Christianity's entanglement in the history of the I lebrews producing a particular notion of salvation which he seems, himself, to rectify as giving a 'purely ethical "virgin xvi XVII
  10. 10. ISLAM ANl> OTHER FAITHS inthoduciion birth" ’ to Christianity itself. Al-Faruqi seems to sec himself as the one who has disentangled the concept of a possessive Lord and, in so doing, reinstated Jesus' affirmation of the universalism of religion which was in direct opposition to Jewish notions of ethnocentrism. The term 'Hanifism' appears quite often in al-Faruqi's writings, and this concept of Hanifism plays a crucial role in his expose of the regions religious history.Thus, it may not be out of place here to find out what he means by this. He describes the Hanifs who upheld the Abrahamic tradition amongst the Arabs as distinctly different but present in almost every tribe of Arabia. Their opposition to shirk, their refusal to participate in pagan rituals, their love of knowledge and of maintaining themselves as ethically different, became the hallmark of the Hanifc). Since their beliefs and practices in daily life were closer to Jewish practices, despite their linguistic differences, they have condescendingly been called hampari in Aramaic, meaning 'separated' Hence, they were somewhat neglected, and given less importance in society. Very often they had to take refuge amongst the desert tribes, anil al-Faruqi argues that this in turn became helpful in further preserving the hanims) identity and purity. He suggests that before the advent of the Prophet Muhammad (peace and blessings be upon him), three attempts were made to reinstate Abrahamic monotheism amongst the tribes of the Arabian Peninsula and these were respectively made by the Prophets Hud, Salih and Shuy'ab in Hadramaut and Hijaz. All failed because the people refused to accept these Prophets and instead Arab shirk or associationism persisted. Al-Faruqi suggests that the different phases of Revelation pertain to the stages of the progression of Urahah. Judaism he views as the first moment ofArab consciousness, Christianity as the second and the contemporary phase as the continuation of <Jrubah and Islam. But does he expect yet another phase, either now or in the future? Yes. and al-Faruqi describes this phase as that of Islamist assertion; a new phase of Islamic consciousness. The requirement of any new value must be unknown, but, in relation to Islam, al-Faruqi finds that this is not so because ‘no xviii value can be new to Islam as such since this is the collective name of all values'. To al-Faruqi, ‘the Islanucness of value is no more than its value-ness'. and if in llrubah new 'values (are) to be discovered' then the logical conclusion in al-Faruqi's view is tliat 'the discovered values should be “Islamic" ’ Put simply, any 'new value' and its relationship with other values has to be worked out and established and 'must cohere with [the] legacy ofthe Ummah’. Al-Faruqi does not see this progression as a casual process in mechanistic terms. Rather, it is planned, but human beings are free to choose their own path and the goals they invent. Therefore, the Prophets act as reminders, critiques and reformers in al- Faruqi's concept of progression. One may find in al-Faruqi’s scheme of progression, some influence from Ibn Hazm who looked at the movement of these three religions in a similar fashion, but al-Faruqi detaches himself from any such observation Muhammad Abduh restated Ibn Hazm’s progression theory in an entirely different context, i.e., in the context of science and civilization. He saw the progression of humanity as occupying three stages: '[C]hildhood. when man needed stern discipline as a child: the Law of Moses, Adolescence, when man relied on feelings; the Age of Christianity. Maturity, when man relics on Reason and Science . . . the Age of Islam.' In this progression, however, docs one religious personality borrow from another? Al-Faruqi contends such views and especially some Western scholars' proposition that Islam has borrowed from Judaism and Christianity. He argues that simple co-existence and 'identical religious personalities' do not suggest 'borrowing'. He emphasizes that it is 'repugnant to speak of “borrowing" between any two movements, an earlier and a later one. when the latter sees itself as a continuation and reform of the earlier'. He finds that the same scholars do not speak of Christianity ‘borrowing’ from Judaism. Buddhism from Hinduism, or Protestantism from Catholicism.Yet that is precisely how Islam sees itself regarding Judaism and Christianity, namely, as the very same identity but reformed and purged of accumulated tamperings and changes by leaders and scribes. In reading al-Faruqi, one easily detects that in order to xix
  11. 11. IMAM ANU OTHER IAIHIS INTROPl'CTlON establish his progression theory, he has to devise a method, a neutral one. to judge Judaism, Christianity and Islam. The methodology he proposed in Christian Ethics: A Historical anil Systematic Analysis of Its Dominant Ideas is what he calls Meta­ Religion. and here he argues that those believers whose religions are compared should be listened to by the comparator. The search for the truth is for the most part a self-analysis of enquiry. Here a researcher is more than a mere spectator. In a way. a researcher is examining the activity of his own spirit in his/her own interaction with the world around him/her.There is a need, in al-Faruqi's comparative religious view, to relate or evaluate, and he strongly believes this provides overall principles which are not 'constrained by any religious tradition' or through which any religious tradition can be judged. He suggests six such principles, which can be summarized as: 1. ‘Being ofTwo Realms: Ideal and Actual', where 'the ideal and the actual are different kinds ofbeing, they arc two’. He elaborates from this standpoint of ethics, arguing: ‘Fact and value are two orders of being. If this duality were not true, and fact and value belonged to the same order of being, it would be groundless to judge one "fact" by "another”.’ 2. 'Ideal Being is Relevant to Actual Being.' 'Since the ideal realm acts as a principle of classification, of the order and structure ofactual being, it provides the standard to judge if the actual is or is not valuable.’ 3. 'Relevance of the Ideal to the Actual is a Command.’Al- Faruqi stresses that the 'whole realm of ideal being is relevant to the whole realm of actual being'. The actual being has to be judged as what it ought to be Their relationship is not based on this and the other, rather their relationship is either/or. In other words, the relevance of ‘ideal’ is superior and the 'actual' has to strive to attain the ‘ideal’. 4. But judging on this basis, i.e.. either/or. the actual being cannot become 'bad'. , . The 'Actual Being is as Such Good.' ‘The realm of actual’, as al-Faruqi describes it. is this-world. This-world is good; to enter it, to be 111 it, is as such valuable. 5. To 'value' the world, to mould the world and give a direction, so that it can 'embody the structure and content ofthe ideal, value realization must be possible'.Therefore . . . the 'Actual Being is Malleable'. He states that 'man can and docs give new direction to the casual, forward push of reality, in order to become something else, something other than he would otherwise be'. 6. 'Perfection of the Cosmos is Only a Human Burden.' I le points out that the importance of man is that he is the only creature who holds the key to the 'entrance of the valuational ideal into the actual'. He argues: 'Man is the bridge which values must cross if they are to enter the real He stands at the crossroads of the two realms of being, participating m both, susceptible to both.' * In the critiques' eyes al-Faruqi is struggling to convince the reader. Not only in what he proposes as Meta-Religion in the introductory chapter of Christian Ethics, but in his whole critical proposition of Christian Ethics itself. He writes to Stanley Foster on 9 December 1961: You may disagree with me that this is carrying the argument of an analysis ofChristian ethics too far. My defence is that I have no other fulcrum from which to direct my critique. Ifmy fulcrum were to be internal to Christianity, my critique would be merely another Christianist treatise. If, on the other hand, it were external to Christianity, my critique would be either a copy of an Ibn Hazm’s or other Middle Ages Muslim critic of Christianity or of a Karl Marx or some other Western atheist. My strategy has been to choose a fulcrum which though external to Chrisdanism (crcdal Christianity) may still be internal to Christianity. Thejourney from Urubah to Ummatic concerns, i.c,, from Arab to Muslim concerns, began soon after al-Faruqi joined the Muslim Students Association (MSA) in the United States. Taking XXI xx
  12. 12. ■SIAM AND OTHER IAITIIS iNTUonvcnoN a leaf out ofJainaluddm al-Afgam’s book, al-Faruqi also formed a group called Uru’ali al-Wutuqa. Like Afghani, he focused his thoughts on Muslim unity through this forum. Al-Faruqi approached the subject in two ways. In the first instance, he sought to give the non-Muslim audience the zeal to rediscover the Islamic heritage, and he encouraged fellow Muslims to witness (ShaluMi) Islam by example and by good words and so provide a sound reference for non-Mushms. In the second instance, he sought to restructure the dreadful holes created in the realms of thought and knowledge by the challenges of modernity and colonialization. Al-Faruqi. time and again, emphasized the importance of da'wah. Fie saw da'wah as a duty incumbent upon all Muslims. A duty to reach others. Fie spoke frequently on this subject in America. Europe and Asia, and two of his writings on the issue. ’On the Nature of Islamic Da'wah' and ‘Da'wah in the West: Promise and Tria)’, arc included here. He viewed the instinct of da'wah as synonymous with mission and as present in all religions. ‘No religion can avoid mission if it has any kind of intellectual backbone', he says and to 'deny mission' in his view 'is to deny the need to demand the agreement ofothers to what is being claimed to be the truth by the religion’.7 Characteristically, al-Faruqi went even further than this and demanded agreement, arguing that 'not to demand agreement' shows a lack of seriousness. Da'wah to him. by its very nature, carries 'a necessary corollary of its affirmations and denials’ where anybody is free to invite others.Yet the kernal of da'wah lies in its integrity 'on the part of both caller and called’. Da'wah. in al-Faruqi's writings, is also motivated by the fact that Islam is the most misunderstood religion. He identifies the reasons for this in a very provocative way Islam, he argues, is: the only religion that contended and fought with most of the world religions on their own home ground, whether in the field of ideas, or on the battlefields of history. Islam has been engaged in these wars - whether spiritual or political - even before it was born, before it became autonomous at home, even before it completed its own xxii system of ideas. And it is still vigorously fighting on all fronts. Moreover, Islam is the only religion that in its mterreligious and international conflict with Judaism. Christianity. Hinduism, and Buddhism, succeeded significantly and in major scale in all the fights it undertook. Equally, it was the only religion that marshalled all its spiritual efforts to fight Western colonialism and imperialism throughout the world when its territory — indeed, its very heartland - was fragmented and practically all its adherents subjected to the colonialist yoke. Finally, and yet more significantly, Islam is still winning today and growing by means of mission and conversion at a greater rate than any other religion. No wonder, then, that it is the religion with the greatest number of enemies and, hence, the religion most misunderstood.' The basic characteristics of da'wah, in al-Faruqi’s view, lie in its nature He highlights these important characteristics as Freedom, Rationality and Universalism. Da'wah without freedom cannot succeed, it can only succeed ‘with absolute integrity on the part of both caller and called'. This is essentia). To him. for 'either party to tamper with that integrity' is a 'capital crime' He argues that 'invitation', which is the literal meaning of da'wah,‘can be fulfilled only with the free consent of the called'. He refers to this call as a call towards God. He argues that since 'the objective is to convince the called that God is his Creator, Master, Lord and Judge, forced judgement is a contradiction in terms'. Conversion, he highlights, is not a conversion towards Islam but to God The question remains, however, whether al-Faruqi is content with the conversion of a person who turns and begins to believe in God without believing in Islam in a confessional sense, i.e., can this be regarded as a true conversion or not? Al-Faruqi seems uncomfortable m answering this question straight away. Rationality demands, al-Faruqi observes, that the judgement to change 'should be arrived at only after consideration of the alternatives, their comparison and contrast with one another, after the precise, unhurried and xxiii
  13. 13. ISLAM AND OTHER lAtltlS INTRODUCTION objective weighing of evidence and counter-evidence with reality’. By asserting the rational aspects of da'wah. al-Faruqi seems to dismiss any underhand method of approaching this sensitive issue. He strongly contends what he calls 'psychopathic expansion' or elsewhere 'psychotropic induction'. Al-Faruqi juxtaposes this assertion against the Hebrew concept of'election' or 'favouritism'. This universalism of da'wah in al-Faruqi's writings somewhat unexpectedly connects other faiths in the sense that God, being the Source, means that He has given the truth to those who are not Muslims, not only individually but also collectively, for truth can be found inside their traditions. This is what al-Faruqi calls a de jure mission simply because the source of the truth is God. If one accepts this argument, the whole outlook of mission and da'wah is changed, k turns, as al-Faruqi puts it. into a 'cooperative critique’ ofthe other religion and avoids its invasion by a new truth’. The reconstruction ofMuslim thought preoccupied al-Faruqi's thought in his later life. His participation m the Association of Muslim Social Scientists (AMSS) in the United States, which came into existence in 1971, gave birth to the concept of the Islamization of Knowledge. Initially, the AMSS was seen as an occasional platform for some social scientists to get together, but al-Faruqi's participation, as its President until 1976. and his input soon brought about the required change Bit by bit this forum for social scientists, with their shared common concerns, began to give the Islamization of Knowledge a new agenda. This, in turn, transformed the organization and attracted much attention beyond the initial social scientist framework and extended further than the United States. To al-Faruqi, Islamization was not simply to label, after some laundering, the existing knowledge into Islamic knowledge; rather, he wanted to provoke his fellow social scientists and the Muslim community living in the West into re-examining, and reshaping the social sciences in light of the Qur’an and the Sunnah. Perhaps he saw the contemporary Muslim community in the West as better suited to this task than the Muslim Ummah in Muslim countries, whom he found somewhat unwilling or unable. Essentially the freedom of thought and exchange ofideas that this task required was non-existent in the Muslim World. Those who seemed to have the skills and were equipped with the classical training of interpretation and explanation, were unfortunately unaware of the Western trends in knowledge and the rigorous arguments it demands. Al-Faruqi, then, saw himself as something of an initiator. His contribution lay in his skill to present the Islamization of Knowledge as a movement and not as a venture limited to just a few individuals. Even in this task, his confrontational posture did not diminish: We have an extremely important task ahead of us. How long are we going to content ourselves with the crumbs that the West is throwing at us? It is about time that we made our own original contribution. As social scientists, we have to look back at our training and reshape it in the light of the Qur'an and the Sunnah. This is how our forefathers made their own original contributions to the study of history, law and culture.The West borrowed their heritage and put it in a secular mould. Is it asking for too much that we take knowledge and Islamize it?' Although al-Faruqi's immediate audience was his students and colleagues in various Muslim organizations across the United States, he nonetheless took this task on with a missionary zeal, addressing audiences well beyond American shores. I iis eyes were fixed on the heartland of the Muslim World. There, along with a growing number of Muslim intellectuals in the West, he saw much need for change. In particular, he identified a stagnation in Islamic learning in the Muslim World, especially in mddaris. There, the once vibrant, innovative concept of education had been replaced with a repetitive, inward-looking one preoccupied with preservation. He also saw a lack of excellence in modern education. What ’modern education' there was. he argued, was implanted into the Muslim World, and it 'remained', in his view, 'sterile and ritualistic with a false aura of progress'. Thus, he was not simply concerned with the colomalization of Muslim territories but also with xxv
  14. 14. ISLAM AND OTHER FAITHS INTRODUCTION the colonization of Muslim minds. Generations of Muslims educated in the West had produced a host ofWestern-educated Muslims who ‘looked up to the Western knowledge' as he put it, ‘despite its irrelevance. (and] made them dependent on its research and leadership'. He was critical of past reformers like Syed Ahmad Khan and Muhammad Abduh, who, he believed, thought ‘that Western sciences were value neutral and that they would not do any harm to Islamic values' This he vehemently rejected. He saw in their approach an adoption of ‘alien' methods of inquiry into various social science disciplines. He argued that little ‘did they know of the fine yet necessary relation which binds the methodologies of these disciplines, their notions of truth and knowledge, to the value system of an alien world'. Al-Faruqi’s critical assessment predicted that any unquestioning adaptation of the value of knowledge would harm the Muslim Ummah’s understanding and would not produce the much-needed inquiry and missionary mind that the Ummah so urgently needed. However, al-Faruqi could not preside over the vision he had for long Even now with a generation having gone through the process of Islamization there is little sign that it will make the significant mark on the ‘quality’ of scholars that al-Faruqi envisaged. Perhaps this is still far in the future. Muslims generally, including their religious leaders, and the Westernized Muslim elite in particular, he argued, were dazzled by ‘Western productivity and power and the Western views of God and man, of life, of nature, of the world, and of time and history . . .'''’Thus, a secular system of education was built which taught Western values and methods, and which produced graduates ignorant of their Islamic legacy. Al-Faruqi was trained as a philosopher and a historian of religion, but his writings do not follow the traditional academic route - which demands a detached view of religion and the people studied. Rather, he examines religions from an Islamic perspective, on the basis of truth and the methods he devised for determining the same. Al-Faruqi looked at religion with keen and critical eyes, examining deeply its unity and source. He had a world-view and pattern of thought, whose heart lay in Islam. His inquiring mind was always challenged by the many facets and traditions which he tried to go beyond, and. in so doing, he challenged our vision and way of understanding and measuring things. In the process, he engages us attentively but does not necessarily lead us always to his osvn conclusions. The reader is free to accept or reject what he says, but he cannot ignore it The essays in this volume by Ismail Raji al-Faruqi span more than two decades. Essays which deal directly with other faiths, and with Christianity and Judaism in particular, have been especially selected. These, in themselves, bear witness to al- Faruqfs devotion to scholarly life and to inter-religious dialogue. The ii articles collected here, provide a good cross-section of al-Faruqi’s contribution to the study of comparative religions. Here an attempt has been made to compile and collect his contribution on the theme into a single volume and thus make them available to a wider audience. These essays do. however, need to be seen against the background of his gigantic- contribution to the study of religions. Such publications include The Great Asian Religions (New York: Macmillan. 1969) which he co-edited with three other scholars, including Joseph M. Kitagawa, and his HistoricalAtlas ofthe Religions ofthe World (New York: Macmillan, 1975) which he edited with David E. Sophcr (map editor). The Cultural Atlas of Islam (New York: Macmillan. 1986) edited with his wife. Lois Lamya al-Faruqi. and published soon after their brutal murder in Chicago in the same year. The four chapters in Part I, 'The Essence of Religious Experience in Islam’.‘Divine Transcendence and Its Expression', 'The Role of Islam in Global Inter-Religious Dependence’ and "A Comparison of the Islamic and Christian Approaches to Hebrew Scripture’, demonstrate how al-Faruqi saw the core and connection between the religions of the Near East. He examines religions prior to and after Abraham, and shows how the Islamic world-view of religion approaches the subject. I le reveals how Islam, particularly, relates itself to both Jewish ami Christian Scriptures. We had the choice here of either including al-Faruqi’s revised article 'Meta-Rcligion: Towards a Critical xxvi xxvu
  15. 15. ISLAM ANU OTHER FAITHS iMRonri 110N World Theology', published in the American Journal of Islamic Social Science (Vol. 3. No. 1, September 1986), or of retaining its earlier version. ‘The Role of Islam in Global Inter-Religious Dependence'. In the end, we decided to retain the earlier version: first, there is very little change except in the introductory and concluding parts which, we believe, are covered, to a large extent, in other chapters in this book. Second, and more importantly, the earlier version includes a discussion that followed al-Faruqi’s original presentation. With a few minor changes, we have included the entire discussion in this chapter. Part II collects together his writings on Islam and Christianity and their dialogical relations. Judaism, however, occupies a substantial part of this debate. This section includes a chapter on the 'Rights of Non-Muslims Under Islam: Social and Cultural Aspects'. It may seem slightly out ofcontext to include this here. 1 lowever. it does provide a glimpse of al-Faruqi's views on Muslim and non-Muslim relations, particularly non-Muslinis m a Muslim-majority country. It is our view that since it was first published in 1979. the debate on these aspects has moved on considerably, with dhimmalt now being discussed in the context of citizenship. Part III focuses on the issue ofda'wah. Here we have selected two articles;'On the Nature of Islamic Da'wah' presents the principles and theoretical aspects of da'wah presented in the Chambesy Dialogue between Christians and Muslims in 1976, whilst the other was presented to a Muslim audience in 1981. These two chapters provide the opportunity for the reader to see how al-Faruqi perceived the relevance of da'wah particularly in a Western context. Notes 1 AI-Faruqis letter dated 14 November 196.1 а. I.R.Al Faruqi and L.L. Al Faruqi, '/lie CulturalAtlas ofIslam (NewYork. Macmillan, 1986), p. 50 3 I R Al Faruqi. 'Divine Transcendence and Its Expression', in Henry O. Thompson (cd ). The (Mini Congress ofthe llwMi Religions. Proceedings of 1980-83 Conference (Washington. DC: The Global Congress ofthe World's Religions. Inc., 1982). pp. 267-316. 4. I.R. Al Faruqi, I'rutiah and Religion (Amsterdam: Djambatan, 1962). pp. 2-3 5. Letter dated 9.12.1961 to Stanley Frost. Dean ofthe Faculty ofDivinity. McGill University. б. Ataullah Siddiqui, Christian-Muslim Dialogue tn the Twentieth Century (Bastngstokc, UK: Macmillan. 1997). PP * 8-9. 7. I R Al Faruqi and L L Al Faruqi. The CulturalAllasofIslam,oprit.p 187 8. I.R. Al Faruqi. 'Islam', in Wing-tsir Chan ct al. (cds.), Die Great dsian Religions (London Macmillan. 1969), p 3®7 9. TheAmericanJournal of Islamic Social Srimces.Vol. 3, No. 1 (19SS).p. 16. 10. International Institute of Islamic Thought. Islamization oj Knowledge General Principles and He»4 Plan (Herndon,Virginia International Institute of IslamicThought, Second Revised Edition. 1989). p. 4 Finally, the reader may find, in places, that certain statements and arguments have been repeated. With selections such as these, this is bound to happen. However, we believe such repetitions arc minimal and we have done our best to ensure major repetitions are avoided. Leicester 20 January 1998 Ataullah Siddiqui XXV1I1 xxix
  16. 16. Acknowledgements Thanks are due to the following for permission to include copyright material: Scholars Press:'A Comparison of the Islamic and Christian Approaches to Hebrew Scripture.' Unification Theological Seminary Library: ‘Divine Transcendence and Its Expression' and 'The Role of Islam in Global Inter-Religious Dependence.'Journal ofEcumenical Studies:'Islam and Christianity — Diatribe or Dialogue.’ Islamic Council of Europe: 'Islam and Other Faiths.'Journal Institute of Muslim Minority Affairs: 'Rights of Non-Muslims Under Islam: Social and Cultural Aspects.' E.J. Brill: 'The Essence of Religious Experience in Islam' and 'History of Religions: Its Nature and Significance for Christian Education and the Muslim-Christian Dialogue.' Also, articles first published in Seminar of the Islamic-C.hristian Dialogue (1981), and International Review of Mission,Vol. LXV, No. 260 (October 1976). Finally, organizers of the ‘international Conference of the 15th Century Hijra' (Malaysia). Thanks are also due to Mrs. K. Barratt and Bushra Finch for typing the text, Mrs. D.J. Robb for typing the revised text and all other material, Muhammad Abdul Karim for preparing the dates of birth and death of individuals mentioned in the book. Naiem Qaddoura for preparing the page lay-outs, and Mr. E.R Fox for copy editing, proofreading and compiling the Index. ALso, thanks arc due to Professor John Esposito for writing the Foreword, Dr. Zafar Ishaq Ansari for providing Ismail al-Faruqi’s letters, and Dr. Anas S. Al Shaikh-All for his valuable suggestions. Biblical quotations are from the Authorized Version, Qur’anic references are based on Abdullah YusufAll's translation published by the Amana Corporation (Brentwood, Maryland, USA, 1983); however in most cases translation of the verses is provided by al-Faruqi himself. PART I xxx
  17. 17. CHAPTER ONE The Essence of Religious Experience in Islam i The title evidently presupposes that an essence of religious experience exists and that such an essence is knowable. Otherwise, the effort to discover such essence and to establish it for the understanding would be in vain and futile. On this account, no statement about the essence of religious experience in Islam or any other religion can afford to overlook these methodological assumptions, or fail to establish them critically. Moreover, it is quite conceivable that some religions would - granted they have an essence — regard its critical establishment for the understanding as irreligious or even necessarily false. For the investigator to flout such attitude on the part of the religion in question is to commit the reductionist fallacy and hence to vitiate his own findings. This cannot be avoided unless the religion itself blesses the attempt, that is to say, unless it admits readfly and unequivocally that it has an essence and that this essence is knowable. Three questions therefore must be answered in the positive before we proceed to our task; namely: Does the Islamic religious experience have an essence? Is it critically knowable? Does its critical establishment violate any constituent clement of that experience? This article was published in Vuinm.Vol. XX, Ease. J <197J), pp.186-201
  18. 18. ISLAM AND OTJII.lt FATHIS nil. r.SSF.NCF OF Bl IK.lot's FXFFIII1:N< F IS IMAM To my knowledge, no Muslim thinker has ever denied that his religion has an essence. Granted that the question itself is a modern question and that the thinkers of the Middle Ages did not raise it in the manner we do today, we can still say with certainty that for all of them, Islam was religion, religion par excellence, indeed 'the religion'; that it was a coherent,autonomous system of truths about reality, of imperatives for action and of desiderata for all kinds and levels of human activity. All of them affirmed that at the centre ofthis system stood God (may He be Glorified and Exhalted), the knowledge of Whom they called taudiid; that all the rest is a hierarchy of imperatives (wdjibat). recommendations (mandilbdt and makruhdl), prohibitions (muharraindt) and desiderata (hasanat) - collectively called the Shari'ah and knowledge of which the Muslims called Jiqh. As for the non-Muslim students of Islam, i.e. the orientalists, none of them raised this question except Wilfred C. Smith. From his inaugural lecture m 1952 to his magnum opus. The Meaning and End of Religion, he consistently maintained that there is no such essence. He held that there are only Muslims whose Mushmness is a new thing with every morn, always changing. This is I leraclitean enough But unlike fatalist, pessimist Heraclitus (fl. $00 uc). who never entertained the possibility of changing the eternal flux of things, Smith definitely claimed the possibility and desirability of changing the direction of the infinite flux of states of Muslimncss. How he identifies the object of change among countless other possible objects; and how he will be able to claim that a change of direction has or has not taken place from any point in the eternal flux, he never tells. Indeed, the I’armcnidcan-Platomc-Aristotehan-Kantian and phenomeno­ logical argument that change itself is inconceivable without a substrate that remains the same in the change, has not impressed him as much as the metaphysical claim that all there is to the phenomenon of burning is the burning itself. In this philosophi­ cal inconsequence, he is not alone. A whole school of positivists, sceptics, cynics and pseudo-scientists have made the same claim. Smith was the first orientalist to demand autonomy for the Islamics discipline, to condemn all interpretations of Islam made under alien categories. His essay "Comparative Religion:Whither - and Why?' published in honour ofJoachim Wacli (1898-1955)' was the first and still is the classical statement of the Western student-of-rehgion's need for humility in front of the data of another religion; and the McGill University Institute of Islamic Studies, of which he was the architect and founder and which stood on the principle that the study of Islam must be cooperatively undertaken by Muslims and Westerners if it is to achieve any valid understanding of its subject matter,-1 was for some time a living monument to this attitude. All this notwithstanding. Smith suspended this supreme demand when he came to discuss the essence of Islam. Indeed, he devoted a substantial part of his book to telling the Muslims what is a truer understanding of their scripture, the Arabic Qur'an Against the fourteen centuries of Muslim Qur'anic scholarship and understanding, he concluded that the claim that Islam was a system and has an essence is a relatively modern affair arising out of three tendencies or processes of reification to which the Muslims have been subject in history. These arc: Influence of the reified Near Eastern religions upon the Qur'an, of the reifying hypostases of Greek thought upon Islamic thought, and of modernist apologetics. * The first was merely claimed by Smith.The circumstantial fact that Persian religion, Judaism and Christianity were already reified when Islam made its appearance proves nothing. Any other form could well have been adopted. In fact, the seventh­ century Near East was not divided between two or three giant monolithic systems. A thousand and one varieties of religious views belonging to every conceivable part of the spectrum of religious development - from Stone Age animism to philosophical mysticism - were evident on all shores of the Mediterranean. Moreover, granted the 'reification' of some Near Eastern religious traditions, it takes other evidence besides factuality to prove that this process was a change for the worse in the said Near Eastern religions; that is to say. and as Smith holds, that it was one in which piety and religiosity were giving place to a shell emptied of religious feeling Finally, there is still no 4 5
  19. 19. ISLAM AND OTHER FAmiS llll ISM M I 111 HIIK.lulls IXI-I Illi M I IS IMAM reason why the increased conceptual precision implied in reification may not be taken advantage of by any man or movement within or without the said Near Eastern religions. On the contrary, it would be strange indeed if any subsequent movement omitted to take such advantage; if, in other words, God had not done His homework in the course of study called ‘The History of Religions’. It would seem that if he is to prove his point. Smith would have to establish the necessary incompatibility ot reification with religiosity. But this he has not done; and his claim remains unsubstantiated Secondly, it is an established fact that the Persian and Jewish religions had done nothing to proselytize Arabia, and that the extreme little which either of them did in Yaman was incidental to political imperialism and never amounted to anything worthy ofbeing called'religious movement'. It is historical fact that none of these religions had achieved any place or esteem in the mind of Makkah or among the hadw living in the wide expanses ofthe desert. Zoroastrians.Jews and Christians were aliens inadmissible to the temple area as well as into the city of Makkah. They had to reside in the outskirts and to do so under the constant protection of native Arabs whose clients they were. Moreover, it is a fact that Persia encouraged Arab paganism to stand up to Byzantine Christianity, while the latter reconciled itself to peaceful coexistence with that paganism. As for the reifying hypostases of Greek thought, it is common knowledge that Hellenism began to invade Muslim letters and thought in the late eight and ninth centuries, two hundred years after the advent of Islam, whereas the so-called 'reification' was complete with the birth of Islam itself. Its terminus is the life of the Prophet Muhammad (peace and blessings be upon him) and its evidence, substance and text are the Qur'an itself. Greek thought is hence utterly irrelevant to the question at hand. So is the argument from Muslim apologetics in modern times. Factual or otherwise as they may be, these arguments prove nothing if the 'reified' result is Qur'anic." It is here, i.e., as regards the Qur'an, that Smith lays his weakest claim. Not only does he tell the Muslims what Qur'anic meanings are but he takes the fanciest issues with their linguistic and exegetical scholars and makes some quite unusual pretensions.The term 'Islam' in Al 'Imran 3: 85 ('Whoever seeks a religion other than Islam, it will not be accepted of him') and al-Ma'idah 5: 4 ('Today. I have completed for you your religion, made total My blessing which has been granted to you ansi accepted for you Islam as your religion') arc first interpreted as meaning 'submission, obedience to His commands'. Of course! any Muslim will retort! How can ‘Islam' not mean these things? And who has ever claimed the contrary? That ‘Islam' means these things is beyond question. But this for Smith means that the term means nothing else; above all, that it docs not mean that 'Islam' is a religion in the reified sense, i.e.. a system of propositions, imperatives and desiderata. But this is an obvious non seqnilnr. That 'Islam' means submission and personal piety docs not preclude it from meaning a religious system of ideas and imperatives. If this is contended, the Muslims' understanding across the centuries is conclusive. That is why Smith resorted to the attempt to establish that, in the early Muslims' understanding, 'Islam' connoted a persona) attitude of piety rather than a religious system. In pursuit of this objective. Smith took the definition of'Is­ lam' by al-Tabari (d. J02 AH/915 ce), namely,‘submission to My command and self-determination to obedience to Me', which al-Tabari continues with 'in accordance with its obligations, pro­ hibitions and notable recommendations prescribed by Me for your benefit’. Unable to appreciate the sudden transfer from the addressive to the third person form of Arabic letters. Smith took the 'obligations, prohibitions and notable recommendations' to refer to 'command', rather than to ‘Islam', the de/tmendnm. Arabically. this is utterly inacceptable. It turns the whole sen­ tence upside-down and makes ugly brokenness out of its literary flow. If we may not question Smith's Arabic abilities, we must conclude that he had bent the language to suit a preconceived argument. Secondly, the literal, obvious and common sense meaning of al-Ma'idah 5: 4, namely,‘Today. I have completed for you your 6
  20. 20. ISI AM ANI> OTHER FAITHS rm rssiM 1 01 m i igiovs Kxrrmi-nct in islam religion. . Smith calls a ’modern interpretation', a ’nowadays’ interpretation, and leads his reader to suppose that the under­ standing that this verse signalled the completion of the religious system of Islam is an understanding of‘nowadays’, of modern times, of the decades after World War II This is not all. That the occasion of the revelation ofthis verse, as well as the whole of Surah al-Ma'idali is the last pilgrimage of the Prophet is an established historical fact beyond doubt. The same al-Tabari, whom Smith reports as ignorant of the Sitz-im- Leben of revelation of tins verse, says on pages 524-9 of volume IX ofhis great 7ii/sir (Old Edition) that this verse was revealed ‘ft yawmijurn'ali uu kdna yawmu 'Arafat, Yaurn al-waqfah, wa lam ya'ish al-nabiyyu ba'dahd ilia wahidan wa thamdnina aw ithnayni wa thamdnina yawman' (‘on a Friday which was the day of standing in worship on Mount Arafat [the consummation ofthe Pilgrim­ age], and the Prophet did not live any longer than 81 or 82 days thereafter.') A little further, on page 531 of the same work, al- Tabari says verbatim: “Hadhiln ayah bi 'Arq/Sl ft hujjat al-wcidd'' (‘This verse was revealed on 'Arafat on the occasion of the Prophet’s farewell pdgrimagc') Is this not proof enough that towards the end of his life, the Prophet received a revelation which does m fact purport to declare the completion of the rev­ elation. of the religious system of Islam? That this is the meaning of the verse was held at least as early as al-Jahiz (d. 253 ah/868 ch), who gave us in his Al-Bayan wa al- Tabyin the full text of the Prophet’s farewell sermon, a century and a half before al-Tabari. In the same place al-Tabari has carefully reported, as if foreseeing Smith’s misunderstanding of the whole affair, that ‘other historians have indeed held that this verse was revealed to the Prophet of God as he marched in his farewell pilgrimage'.’ The story is complete in Ibn Sa'd’s Al- Tabaqdl al-Kubra and practically every historian and reporter (miihaddith) since. No one of these had ever accused his colleagues or predecessors of such an invention as Smith had accused them. In his work especially devoted to the analysis of the historical Silz-im-Ltben of the Qur’anic revelations entitled Asbdb al-Mtzitl (Cairo: M B. I lalabi, 1379/1959), Abu al-IIasan 'Ali ibn Ahmad al-Wahidi (d. 468 ah/1096 ce) repeated the same claim in terms identical to those of al-Tabari. Whereas al- Zamakhshari (d. 538 ah/I444 CF.) the Mu'tazili rationalist, wrote 111 lus exegesis, the whole story of the Prophet’s farewell pilgrimage in 11 AH/632 CE, * al-IskaC. an earlier Qur’anic scholar (d. 431 .Mi/1040 ce), held - contrary to Smith’s allegation - that 'Muslunun' and 'Mu’minun' are synonymous terms and quoted al-.Wunl 27: 81 in support. It is in this verse that the Qur'an defined muslimim in terms of imdn.1" Even Ibn Ishaq (d. 151 An/ 768 ce) who gave us the earliest biography of the Prophet uses the term 'Islam' in both the ‘reified’ and ‘non-reified’ senses. In one passage he calls the Jnsiir of Madinah 'the battalion of Islam' " Smith's contention that reification was a later phenomenon does not stand a casual reading of any early Islamic source work. As for Smith’s claim that al-Tabari remained silent - which we have just shown to be false — on the occasion of the verse in question, it is definitely an argument e silencio and more For although Smith knew it was e silencio. he still found fit to mention it. Certainly then he wished his reader to suspect that the meaning of the verse was ‘apparently unknown in the third century to al-Tabari and to those of the Companions (may Allah be pleased with them) whose views he reports'.'1 Al-Tabari's silence should have kept Smith silent too, logically speaking, for to argue r silencio is to commit a fallacy. But it did not. Smith’s mistake is hence doubled II What is the essence of religious experience in Islam? At the core of religious experience in Islam stands God. The shahadah or confession of Islam asserts: ‘There is no God but God.' The name of God. ‘Allah’, which simply means ’the God', occupies the central position in every Muslim place, every Muslim action, every Muslim thought.The presence of God fills the Muslim’s consciousness at all times. With the Muslim, God is indeed a sublime obsession. What does it mean? 8 9
  21. 21. ISLAM AND OTHER EATIHS mi rsstN< i 01 ri.i inions experience in isiam Muslim philosophers and theologians have battled it out among themselves for centuries, and the issue culminated in the arguments of al-Ghazall (1058-1111) and Ibn Rushd (1126-98). For the philosophers, the issue was one of saving the orderliness of the universe. The world, they argued, is a cosmos, i.e., a realm in which order and law prevail, where things happen by a cause and causes cannot be without their proper effects. In this stand they were heirs to the Greek, the Mesopotamian and the Ancient Egyptian legacies of religion and philosophy. Creation itself was for these traditions passage from chaos to cosmos. The Muslims entertained the highest ideas of transcendence and nobility of the divine being, but they could not conceive of that being as consistent with a chaotic world. The theologians, for their part, feared that such an emphasis on the orderliness of the universe necessarily renders God a deus otiosus; that it leaves Him little to do once He has created the world and built thereinto the clockwork mechanisms necessary to set everything in causal motion. They were right For a world in which everything happens according to a cause and where causes are all natural - i.e., in and from the world - is one m which everything happens necessarily and hence is a world which does not need God. Such a God would never satisfy- the religious feeling. Either He is He by Whom everything is. by Whom everything that happens happens, or He is no God at all. By intricate argument, they showed that such a God as the philosophers taught was either ignorant of what happens, incapable of controlling or initiating it. or that there was some other God besides Him, who is the real cause and master of all. I fence, they rejected the philosophers’ view and invented the doctrine called 'occasionalism'. This is the theory that at every moment of time, God recreates the world and thus makes happen all that happens therein. They replaced the necessity of causality with the trust that God, being just and righteous, will not deceive but will sec to it that the right effect will always follow upon the right cause. The upshot of the matter was not the establishment of causality, but of divine presence, and of accommodating causality to that presence. The theologians earned a sweeping victory over the philosophers. Behind the theologians' position stands the Muslim's experience, where God is not merely an absolute, ultimate first cause or principle but a core of normativcncss. It is this aspect of God that suffers most in any theory where God becomes a deus otiosus; and it is the Muslim’s responsiveness to this core of normativeness that the philosophers' theory throws out ofjoint. God as normativcncss means that He is the being who commands. His movements, thoughts and deeds are all realities beyond doubt, but everyone of these insofar as man conceives of it is for him a value, an ought-to-be, even when, in the case where it is already realized, no ought-to-do flows from it. Besides being metaphysical. God's ultimacy is not for the Muslim isolablc from, or cmphasizable at the cost of. the axiological. If we were to allow the Muslim here to use the category of'the value of knowledge’, he would say that the value of the metaphysical is that it may exercise its imperativeness, its moving appeal or normativcncss. God is the final end. i.e.. the end at which all finalistic nexus aim and come to rest. Everything is sought for another which in turn is sought for a third and so on and hence demands the nexus or chain to continue until a final end is reached which is an end-in-itself. God is such an end, an end for all other ends, all chains of ends. He is the ultimate object of all desire. As such it is He Who makes every other good good; for unless the final end is posited, every link in the chain is undone. The final end is the axiological ground of all chains or nexus of ends. It follows from this conception of God as ultimate finalistic terminus and axiological ground that He must be unique. Obviously, if this were not the case, the question would have to be raised again regarding the priority or ultimacy of one to the other. It is of the very nature of a finalistic end to be unique.The Qur'an has put it succinctly:'If there were other Gods in heaven and earth besides God, heaven and earth would have fallen down.'" it is this uniqueness which the Muslim affirms in his confession offaith,'There is no God but God.' In the long history 11 10
  22. 22. IMAM AND OTHER FAITHS Illi ISM Ml <11 KI I 11.101S I XI'I Hll M I IN IMAM of religions, the Muslim's assertion of God's existence would have come late. Indeed God had told him in the Qur’an that 'there is no people unto whom He had not sent a prophet', and that ‘no prophet but had been sent to teach the worship and service of God’. But his assertion of the uniqueness of God is new. It brought a refreshing iconoclasm at a time and place where dualism and trimtariamsm were the higher, and polytheism the lower state of religious consciousness. And, in order to purge that consciousness free once and for all. Islam demanded utmost care in the use of language and percepts appropriate to the unique God.'Father',‘intercessor’.‘saviour’.'son', etc., were utterly banished from the religious vocabulary; and the uniqueness and absolute transcendence of the divine being were stressed that no man may claim any relation to God which all other men cannot claim. Islam held as a matter of principle that no man or being is one iota nearer to God than any other. That all creation is crcaturcly. that it stands on this side of the line dividing the transcendent from the natural, is the necessary presupposition of God’s axiological ultimacv. The relevance of this 'umcity' of God to the religious life of the person is easier to grasp. Man's heart always harbours lesser deities than God. and human intention is nearly always beclouded with desiderata of varying orders of rank.The noblest intention is. as Kant (1724-1804) had taught, the purest, i.e., purified from all objectives of'die Willkur’. And die purest, Islam teaches, is that ofwhich God is the sole occupant after all Willkiir objects are removed and banished. To perceive God as core or normativeness, as an end whose very being is imperativeness and desirability, is not possible unless there are beings for whom this normativeness is normative. For normativeness is a relational concept. For it to be, there must be creatures for whom the divine command is both perceivable (and hence knosvable) as well as realizable. Kelationality is not relativity and should not be understood as implying that God is dependent upon, or needful for. man and his world. In Islam, God is self-sufficient; but this self-sufficiency does not preclude the creation of a world in which men find the imperativeness and realize its ought-to-be's. At the core of the Islamic religious experience, therefore, stands God Who is unique ami Whose will is the imperative and guide for all men's lives The Qur'an has put it dramatically. It portrays God as announcing to His angels His intention of creating the world and placing therein a vicegerent to do His will.The angels object that such vicegerent who would kill, do evil and shed blood is unworthy of being created. They also contrasted such vicegerent with themselves who never swerve from fulfilling the divine will, to which God answers. 'I know something which you do not know,'14 Obviously, man would indeed do evil - that is his prerogatwe as a free man. But for anyone to fulfil die divine will when it is perfectly in his power to do otherwise, is to fulfil a higher and worthier portion of the divine will. The angels are ruled out precisely because they have no freedom to violate the divine imperative. Likewise, in another still more dramatic Qur'anic passage. ‘God ottered His trust to heaven and earth, mountains and rivers. These were struck with fear and panic and rejected the trust. But man accepted the trust and assumed its burden.' The trust, or divine will, which no heaven-and-earth can realize is the moral law which demands freedom of the agent necessarily. In heaven and earth, the will of God is realized with the necessity ofnatural law." It is His inalterable sunnah or pattern which, implanted in creation, causes creation to run as it docs. Natural law cannot be violated by nature. Its total fulfilment is all that nature is capable ofdoing. But man. who boldly accepts the trust is capable ofdoing the will ofGod.” Only he. therefore, of all creatures, satisfies the prerequisite of moral action, namely freedom. Moral values are more conditioned than the elemental values of nature since they presuppose them. Equally, they presuppose the utilitarian or instrumental values and stand therefore higher than either of these. Evidently, they are the higher part of the divine will which necessitated the creation of man and his appointment as the vicegerent of divinity on earth. Because of this endowment, man stands higher than the angels, for he can do more than they."1 He can act morally, i.e., in freedom, which they cannot. Man equally shares the necessity of 12 'J
  23. 23. IStAM ANU OTHI-U HUtHS Illi ISSI M I Ol Hl IIGIOUS IXUBlI NCl; IN ISLAM natural causation in his vegetative and animal life in his physical presence as a thing among things on earth. But as the being through whom the higher part of God’s will can be realized, he stands absolutely without peer. His is a cosnuc vocation, a genuine khilajah, or vicegerence of the divine order. It would indeed be poor, uncoordinated work on the part of God if He had created such a cosmic creature as man without enabling him to know His will; or placed him on an earth which is not malleable enough to receive man’s discharge of his ethical vocation, or on one where the doing or not-doing ot that will would make no difference. 'Id know the divine will, nun was given revelation, a direct and immediate disclosure of what God wants him to realize on earth. Wherever the revelation was corrupted, perverted, or forgotten, God has repeated the performance, taking into consideration the relativities of history, the changes in space and time, all to the purpose of keeping within man’s reach a ready knowledge of the moral imperatives. Equally, man is endowed with senses, reason and understanding, intuition, all the perfections necessary to enable him to discover the divine will unaided. For that will is imbedded not only in causal nature, but equally in human feelings and relations. Whereas the former half takes an exercise of the discipline called natural science to discover it, the second half takes the exercise of the moral sense and the discipline of ethics The discoveries and conclusions arc not certain. They are always subject to trial and error, to further experimentation, further analysis and to correction by deeper insight But. all this notwithstanding, the search is possible, and reason cannot despair of re-examining and correcting its own previous findings without falling into scepticism and cynicism. Thus, knowledge of the divine will is possible by reason, certain by revelation. Once perceived, the desirability of its content is a fact ot human consciousness. Indeed, the apprehension of value, the suffering of its moving appeal and determinative power, is itself the 'knowledge' of it. For to know value is to lose one’s ontological poise or equilibrium and to roll in the direction of it, that is to say, to suffer change, to begin the realization of its ought-to-be. to fulfil die ought-to-do which issues therefrom. As the leading American empiricist, C.I. Lewis (1883-1964). used to say: The apprehension of value is an experience and is itself a “value-ing",’ So much for the consequences ofreligious experience in Islam for die theory ofman. We ought now to consider the implications for soteriology and history. We have already mentioned the malleability of the world, its readiness to be informed, rekneaded, remoulded and cut so as to make it a concretization of the divine pattern. This preparation, together with the availability of revelation and the promise of a critical establishment of the divine will by reason, all render unpardonable the failure of nun to fulfil Ins vicegerency. Indeed, fulfilment of his vocation is the only condition Islam knows for man’s salvation.Either it is his own doing or it is worthless?' Nobody can do the job tor him. not even God. without rendering him a puppet. This follows from the nature of moral action, namely, it is not itself, that is moral, unless it is freely willed and undertaken to completion by a free agent Without the initiative and effort of man, all moral worth or value falls to the ground?1 Islamic sotenology therefore is the diametrical opposite of that of traditional Christianity. Indeed, the term ’salvation’ has no equivalent in the religious vocabulary of Islam. There is no saviour and there is nothing from which to be saved, Man and the world are either positively good or neutral, but not evil. '' Man begins his life ethically sane and sound, not weighed down by any original sin, however mild or Augustinian.’4 In fact, he is at birth already above the zero point in that he has the revelation and his rational equipment ready for use. as well as a world all too ready to receive his ethical deed. His religious felicity (the term Islam uses is/<i/<i/i, which comes from the root meaning'to grow vegetation out of the earth') consists of his fulfilment of the divine imperative. He can hope for God’s mercy and forgiveness, but he may not count on it while refraining from doing the divine will whether out of ignorance, laziness or blatant defiance. His fate and destiny are exactly what he himself makes them to be. God's government is just, neither favourable nor *5 '4
  24. 24. IMAM AN1> OTHER FAITHS toe tsssNcii or- reuciovs exhuurnoi in isiam unfavourable. Its scale of justice is absolutely that of the most precise and perfect balance. And its system of worldly and other­ worldly rewards and punishments disposes for everyone, whether blest or unblest, exactly what he deserves/' Islamic religious experience had great consequences for world history. The fire of the Muslim’s vision caused him to hurl himself onto the stage of history therein to effect the realization of the divine pattern his Prophet had communicated to him. Nothing was for him worthier than this cause. In its interest, he was prepared to pay the maximum price, that of laying down his life. True to its content, he regarded Ins stage as consisting of the whole world, of his ummah as consisting of mankind less a few recalcitrants whom he sought to bring within the fold by force of arms. His pax Islamica, which stood on his arms, was never conceived as a monolithic society in which Islam alone predominates. It included Jews, Chistians. Sabacans by Quranic authority, Zoroastrians by Muhammadan authority, and Hindus and Buddhists by the jurists’ extrapolation of that authority. The ideal remained the same, namely, a world in which, as the Qur’an puts it, ’the divine word is supreme’, and everybody recognizes that supremacy. But such recognition to be worth anything at all must be free, the deliberate decision of every person. That is why to enter into the pax fclamica never meant conversion to Islam, but entry into a peaceful relationship wherein ideas are free to move and men are free to convince and be convinced. Indeed, the Islamic state put all its resources at the disposal of Jewish society, Christian society, Hindu and Buddhist society, whenever these sought her authority to bring back into line with Judaism, Christianity, Hinduism, and Buddhism any member who defied or transcended that line. The Islamic state was the only non-Jewish state where the Jew was not free to de- Judaize himself, or to rebel as a Jew against the authority of Judaism. The same applied to the Christian. Hindu or Buddhist. Whereas, up to his Enuncipation in the nineteenth century, the European Jew who defied the directive of Ins Hayl ha Din could only be excommunicated such excommunication nuking of him a lawless man, awaited just outside the walls of the ghetto by the Christian state or any non-Jew to be dispossessed and killed - the oriental Jew who defied his Bayt ha Din was corrected by the Islamic state in the name of his rabbis. This constitutes an ultimate proof of the Muslim understanding of the divine trust as ethical III The essence of religious experience in Islam, we may say in conclusion, is the realization that lite is not in vain; that it must serve a purpose the nature of which cannot be identical with the natural flow ot appetite to satisfaction to new appetite and new satisfaction. For the Muslim, reality consists of two utterly disparate orders, the natural and the transcendent; and it is to the latter that he looks for the values by which to govern the flow of the former. Having identified the transcendent realm as God, he rules out any guidance ofaction that does not proceed therefrom His rigorous rawliiil (or unization of divinity) is, in the final analysis, a refusal to subject human life to any guidance other than the ethical Hedonism, eudaemomsm and all other theories which find moral value in the very process of natural life are his bete noire. In his view, to accept any of them is to set up other gods besides God as guide and norm of human action. Shirk, or association of other gods with God is really the mixing up of the moral values with the elemental and utilitarian which arc all instrumental and never final. To be a Muslim is precisely to perceive God alone (that is, die Creator, and not nature or the creature) as normative, His will alone as commandment. His pattern alone as constituting the ethical desiderata of creation. The content of the Muslim’s vision is truth, beauty and goodness: but these for him arc not beyond the pale of his noetic faculties. He is therefore an axiologist in his religious disciplines of exegesis, but only to the end of reaching a sound deontology, as a jurist. Justification by faith is for him meaningless, unless it is the simple introduction into the arena of action. It is there that he claims his best, as well as 16 17
  25. 25. IMAM AND O1IIIR IAHUS rm essence or m iaous exrani nci in imam lus worst. For he knows that as man. he stands alone between heaven and earth with none but his axiological vision to show the road, Ins will to commit his energies to the task and his conscience to guard against pitfalls. His prerogative is to lead the life of cosmic danger; for no God is there to do the job for him. Not only is the job done if and when he has done it for himself, but he cannot withdraw. His predicament, ifhe has any by nature, is that he must carry the divine trust to complete realization or perish, as a Muslim, in the process. Surely, tragedy lurks behind every corner in his path. But that is also his pride.As Plato put it. he is ’doomed to love the good-. Notes 1 Mircea Elude and Joseph Kitagawa (cds.), The Horary of Religion! F-ifayr in Methodology (ChicagoiThe University ofChicago Press, 1959). pp. 31-66. ; flnii .pp 52-3,See also Institute ofIslamic Studies brochures for 1952-61. 3 Another more recent discovery ofthe vanity ofsuch claim was nude by J.S Trimnnngham who,after a longcareer in Islamic Studies as well as Christian mission to Muslim lands, wrote: 'A Christian cannot tell a Muslim what tile Qur’an means’ (7i<v llinhts/lre Oim, Beirut: Librairie du I.than. 1971.p. 161). 4 Wilfred C. Smith, Tlie Meaning and End of' Religion (New York The Macmillan Co., 1962.1963), Chapter IV. 5. Three reasons have presumed themselves toexplain this Byzantine will to co-existence with Arab paganism, namely: Theological affinity involving inmtanamsm. savmunsm arid intercessiomsm. and sacramenialism. lack ofa will to mission promoted Isv interminable rheological disputes: and a consuming interest in trade arrangements. 6 One should mention here that the statistical method used by Smith, and consislingofcountingthe incidence ofthe terms'Islam'and’Iman'in the Qur’Sn. in tile titlesofbooks mentioned by Carl Brockelmann in his famous Cuuhithle, is frivolousami misleading. Classical Muslim authors were not in the habit ofusing either ths- svonl Islam or Iman intheir titles.In Smiths calculus,however,this fact counts against diem. For the picture would be radically different ifone realized what the ratio isoftides usingeitliei 'Islam'or Iman’to those using neither. Smith says he has looked at over 25.000 titles (The Meaning and End ofReligion, p. 298). but he omitted to tell his readers how many of these included the terms in question. He gave only the percentages ofthe uses. 18 7. Smith writes: (’Today I have completed your religion for you’) is understood by Muslims nowadays .is having been revealed accordingly,at the very end ofthe Prophet’scareer,closingdie exposition ofIslam as a ns>w completed system’ (Smith, op. at., p. 297). 8. /W.,M>I. IX,p.J31 9. AI-Kasluuhdf 'an Ha^du/ al-Tantil um '< ’pin al-.dqdnfl ft Hipii/i al-Ta'wil (Cairo Mustafa al-Babi al-Halabi. 1966).Vol. I. p. 593. 10. Muhammad ibn 'Abdullah al-Khatibal Iskali, Durratal-Tan:il mr C-hurmt al- Ta'udl (Cairo MuhammadMatar al-Warraq, 1909.p 180). Here al-lskati asserts ‘Falammi taqarabat al-Lafzatan (i.e.. muslimun and mu'ininun) u-u Itdnatd tuila'maldni hnia'nd u-dhid 11. Muhammad ibn Ishaq ibn Yasir, SrnW al-Nalny Solid Alllliu 'Alaylii uu Sallam, recension of Muhammad 'Abdul Malik ibn I lishain (d. 834) (Cairo: Muhammad Subayhj.Vol. IV. p, 1073 12. Smith, op <il,.p. 297. 13. al-Atthyi' It: 11.2V 14. al-Hagaiah 2: 30. 15. al’Alyxib33:72. 16 .’There is no altering to God’s creation. Tliat is the right religion; thoughmostmen do notknow' (al-Riini 30: 30). Furtherelaborationsofthe theme maybe read in al-Bagarah 2:164. ,-il ‘Imran 3: yal-Anfil 8: 3;al-An'dm6: 59.95 * 9; al-A'rafT. 54; Tmuir 10:5-6,18,61; Hud it:6;al-I'dahl 16 49; 7,3 lid 10 6;al-Furgdu 25: 45 * 53: etc., etc. 17. 'There is no change in God's(sunnah) pattern ofaction.' {al-Aliodb 33:62; al-Fdlii 35: 43; al-lvth 48: 23) |8, ’Whoever wills to believe, or to disbelieve, |does so ofhisown accord)' (al-Kahl 18:29).‘God does not change die situation ofanygroup ofmen until they transform their own selves' (al-Ra'd 13:11)'., .Whatever man has earned, he will certainly be given'(73 Idaio: ly.al-Na/m 53:39) Man s cap.ii ny forevil is stressed in al-Nitl’ 4 n.al-hrd' 17 11.67; Ihrdhim 14: 34;id-Suhd 42: 48. ul-.Ui'uni 70: 19: '.dMsa 80: 17; al-'Adiydl loo: 6; al-'Au 103: 2. 19. al-Hip 15: 2S-30. 20. See n 18 above Whoever atcepts this guidance (die Quranic revelation) sloes so to Im own merit.and whoever errs docs so to his own demerit Teach the Qur’an, that man may learn that it is by his own deeds that he deliver * himself to ruin' (Yunus 10: 108; af.-bi'am 6: 70. 19
  26. 26. ISAM AND OTHER IAITHS 2i ‘On (hat day (the Day ofJudgement) men will rise severally to be shown their own works.Then, whoso has done an atoms weight ofevil will also see it returned' (al-Zabala 99- 68). ’|On that day] As for him whose scales arc heavy with good works, he will have the pleasant existence, hut as for him whose scales are light, Hell will be his destination' (dl-Qbi’di 101: 6-9). 22. ‘(God) does not require ofany person except that ofwhich he is capable' (dl-Mu'minun 23: 62}. ‘God burdens no soul beyond its capacity It shall have the reward itearns and it shall get the punishment it incun Our Lord, burden us not with what we have not the strength to bear’ . . . (al-Iiaqarah 2: 286), 23. ‘And orient yourselfto the service ofGod, as the religion has directed. That is natural, the very nature which God had embedded within you. no change in the work (wrought) by God.That is the right religion’ (al-Rihn 30: 30). 24. A tradition ofthe Prophet says Man is born a Muslim (considering that Islam is natural religion, I 'r-rrhijKMiJ. It is Ins parents whichJudaue or Christianize him’ (.So/rf/r at-BukhiM,Kitab al-Jana'iz andTafsir). 25. All these principles of Islamic ethics can easily be substantiated by quotations from the Qur an, the supreme Islamic authority.The reader is kindly referred to the topical selections on pp 319~.I7 of Hir GreatA>ion Rtligwii.cA and comp, by Chan. al-Faruqi. et al. (NewYork:The Macmillan Co., 1969). CHAPTER TWO Divine Transcendence and Its Expression Genesis and Early Development of the Idea of Divine Transcendence The earliest ’logos’ doctrine on record is that propounded by Memphite theology.' It states that the God Ptah thought in his heart everything m creation and then uttered his thought. The act ofutterance, ofexpression of inner thought into outer words, is the creative act which brought about the real existence of everything. Expression in words was a creative materialization of things, including a creation of the other gods. The genesis of the world and of everything in it was a progress from divine thought to dis’ine word, and 'every divine word came into being through that which was thought by the heart and commanded by the tongue’. Conforming with long-standing Egyptian religious wisdom. Memphite theology did see Ptah as the power in all things His thinking and commanding were not only the origin of the existence of everything, but equally, its sustenance and source of life, growth and energy. This notwithstanding, it was opposed - ansi hence, was not popular anti did not survive — because it saw God (may He be Glorified and Exhaltcd) as in some aspect prior to His creation. In other words, Memphite Thuarticle was published in HenryO.Thompson (cd.). The Global Confrruof thrH'oM'i Roligioni (Proceedings of1980-82 Conference), (Washington.DC:The Global Congress ofthe World's Religions, Inc.. 1982). pp. 267-Jtb. 20 21

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